Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Examining leadership in Louisiana's restaurant industry

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is in a new phase in its development. With the retirement of its former president and chief executive officer in 2010, the volunteer leaders conducted a national search—the first time for many of them—for someone to lead them into a new era for your association. That individual is Stan Harris—a former successful restaurateur with a strong business acumen and an active leader.

The LRA Executive Committee charged Harris with bringing a solid business approach to the association and leading a strategic restructuring to align the LRA and its highly-valued Self Insurer’s Fund forWorkers’ Compensation. Another task is to raise awareness of the Louisiana ProStart® program, the two-year, restaurant management and culinary curriculum offered in 50 high schools statewide.

While much of that work has began at the staff level in 2011, the real work begins this year as members of the state board and the nine LRA chapter presidents will evaluate themselves and begin to set the course for the future of our association and industry. Enhancing the industry’s identity and reputation is at the forefront of this initiative.

Developing the next generation of industry leaders
Given the level of involvement necessary to evolve the LRA, 2012 LRA Chair Melvin Rodrigue appointed LRA Past Chair Glen Armantrout as Chapter Leadership Chair this year. In preparation and in conjunction with LRA senior staff, the first Chapter Leadership Conference was instituted this past December. All nine chapter presidents attended as well as the nine chapter vice presidents.

The one-day conference covered a range of topics from chapter revitalization, board and chapter meeting facilitation, chapter philanthropy and discussions on creating a culture that encourages cultivating new members.

Rodrigue presented, “The 7 Crucial Skills of Leadership,” which he noted was not only relevant to the chapter presidents’ role within the LRA, but also in their daily personal and professional lives. 

The seven skills include communication, goal setting, motivation, building teams, leading change, conflict management and coaching. He gave examples from his own experience as the chief operation officer of Galatoire’s Restaurant in New Orleans and serving in leadership roles in other organizations.

Trust is at the core of it all
In planning the conference, it was clear that a refresher on what makes teams successful and confident in their capabilities—trust. Armantrout delivered an impassioned overview of Stephen M.R. Covey’s, “The Speed of Trust, the One Thing that Changes Everything,” which focused on the Four Cores of Credibility. Each of the cores—Integrity, Intent, Capabilities and Results—were discussed with questions for the chapter leaders to consider.

Each of the 18 presidents and vice presidents, and the seven LRA regional directors received a copy of the book to delve deeper into the idea of trust. Each chapter president also received electronic versions of the conference presentations to present to their chapter board members.

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